Nov. 14, 2009

By Dan Hickling
Special to

EASTON, Mass. – Attack, attack, and attack some more.

That's the way Bloomsburg University likes to play it.

Same for UMass-Lowell.

And the squad that can burn more luckless defenders and burn out more scoreboard bulbs than the other, will, on Sunday, claim the 2009 NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championship at Stonehill College's W.B. Mason Stadium. The game is set for 1 p.m.

The schools are no strangers – they’re meeting in the championship for the third year in a row, and the fourth time in five years.

Bloomsburg has won every championship since 2002 – except for the 2005 title, when Lowell won in overtime.

The Huskies have won the last three – and 12 in all – including beating Lowell 5-2 and 6-2 in the 2007 and 2008 championship games.

“We know the rule,” said Jan Hutchinson, who is stepping down after 32 years as Bloomsburg’s coach. “And the rule is the team with the most goals at the end of the game wins.”

Lately, Bloomsburg (21-1) has trampled everyone in its way, outscoring its last seven opponents, 32-3. Its only loss was 18 games ago, a 2-1 decision to Kutztown.

The three goals scored against the Huskies in the last 18 games were netted by Shippensburg, who Bloomsburg beat to advance to the final.

“We always want to set our pace in the game,” said sophomore forward Amanda Riley. “We don't want to play to how other people play. Teams are going to score on us. It's going to happen. We've just got to know how to fight back.”

The same sentiment is echoed by the Riverhawks (18-5), who used Sammy Macy's goal with 1 minute, 46 seconds to play to record a dramatic, 2-1 semifinal win against Stonehill on Friday.

“We need to control what we can control,” said Lowell coach Shannon Hlebichuk. “And that's what we do on the field. Ball possession. Executing our corners. Putting shots on goal and making something happen. … We're playing good field hockey. And if we can take this momentum and bring it with us, Sunday, hopefully that will be the difference.”

Both rosters feature high scoring forwards. Bloomsburg is led by Riley (25 goals), Breanne Tobin (18), and Maggey Bloskey (14), who has found the net in seven of the Huskies' last nine games.

Lowell, which has outscored its foes, 26-11, over the last month, counters Macy (24), Katie Enaire (22), and Jaci Moulton (9).

Moulton has returned after missing six games with a torn ACL.

Having played second banana to Bloomsburg the last two years, the Riverhawks would like to settle two years' worth of lingering unfinished business.

“We want to get them back,” said Moulton. “Revenge. If we come out as strong as we did (Friday), I think we can do it.”

EMPTY NETTERS: Curveballs are usually reserved for the baseball diamond, but the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida tossed a wet bender at Bloomsburg and Lowell Saturday, as both teams made final preparations for the championship. Bloomsburg held its final practice inside the Stonehill field house and Lowell stay home for an indoor workout. …

The change in practice venue didn't prevent the application a few minor tweaks.

“We really just wanted to solidify some things that we needed to change and correct,” said Hutchinson, moments after conducting the last field hockey practice of her 32-year tenure at Bloomsburg. “And talk a little about our corner situations. Keep it light, but get 'em out, and get 'em movin'.” … Reflecting back on Lowell’s last-minute semifinal win, Hlebichuk said it reminded her of last year's Shippensburg-Bloomsburg semifinal, in which Bloskey scored all three Huskies goals in a 3-2 overtime win.

"We got to witness that," said Hleibichuk, "and it was really an intense and insane game. We thought, 'oh my gosh, what would it be like to be part of something like that?’ I think we got that question. And we didn't have to go to overtime.”